Talk by Tom Mitchell, Computer Science Dept., Carnegie Mellon University. Given to the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley. Recorded by staff at the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience.
How does the human brain use neural activity to create and represent meanings of words, sentences and stories? One way to study this question is to give peopletext to read, while scanning their brain. We have been doing such experiments with fMRI (1 mm spatial resolution) and MEG (1 msec time resolution) brain imaging. As a result, we have learned answers to questions such as "Are the neural encodings of word meaning the same in your brain and mine?", "Are neural encodings of word meaning built out of recognizable subcomponents, or are they randomly different for each word?," and "What sequence of neurally encoded information flows through the brain during the half-second in which the brain comprehends a word?" This talk will summarize some of what we have learned, and newer questions we are currently working on.